Africa Media Review for February 21, 2024

Save the Date – President Cyril Ramaphosa Announces SA’s Election Day
South Africans will go to the polls in the national and provincial elections of 2024 on Wednesday, 29 May. The election date was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday night. The date will now officially be proclaimed in the Government Gazette. Once the date is proclaimed, voter registration will also be closed…More than 27 million people are registered to vote, the Electoral Commission of South Africa’s (IEC) Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo said after the IEC wrapped up its final registration weekend in February…It is in the ANC’s interest to have the election held sooner rather than later, as it favours the incumbent, giving newcomers less time to campaign. Daily Maverick

Senegal Leaves Presidential Election List Mainly Unchanged
Senegal’s Constitutional Council on Tuesday published an amended list of candidates for a presidential election delayed from Feb. 25 to a yet undecided date, removing just one candidate from the initial list because she withdrew her application…The new candidate list was almost unchanged from the original list for the Feb. 25 vote apart from removing opposition contender, Rose Wardini, bringing the number of candidates down to 19 from an initial 20. The council said Wardini had withdrawn her application without providing further detail. Prominent opposition figures including the firebrand jailed politician Ousmane Sonko and Karim Wade, the son of former president Abdoulaye Wade, remained excluded. Reuters

UN Security Council Sanctions 6 Rebel Leaders in Congo
The U.N. Security Council designated six individuals for sanctions Tuesday for their destabilizing activities in Congo, where violence has escalated in the east this year, intensifying an already dire humanitarian situation. Those sanctioned are a general in the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR); two senior leaders in the Ugandan armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF); the military spokesman for the Rwandan-backed M23 rebel group; the leader of the National Coalition of the People for the Sovereignty of Congo (CNPSC), a Mai-Mai group; and a commander in the armed group Twirwaneho…The United Nations has expressed grave concern about the deterioration in North Kivu province since a cease-fire expired at the end of December between Rwandan-backed M23 rebels and the Congolese army, known as the FARDC. VOA

The United States Tells Rwanda and Congo They Must ‘Walk Back from the Brink of War’
The United States told Rwanda and Congo on Tuesday that they “must walk back from the brink of war,” the sharpest warning yet of a looming conflict between the African neighbors. U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood delivered the warning at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council called by France as violence has worsened in Congo’s mineral-rich east which borders Rwanda. Wood said Rwanda and Congo, along with “regional actors,” should immediately resume diplomatic talks…The U.S. warning follows the Rwandan Foreign Ministry’s rejection on Monday of U.S. calls for the withdrawal of its troops and surface-to-air missile systems from eastern Congo. AP

DRC: At Least 24 Dead in 2 ADF Attacks
Extremist rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have killed at least two dozen civilians in separate attacks this week, local authorities and a civil society group said Tuesday. Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels…killed 13 people in Mambasa territory, Ituri province, on Tuesday, said Christophe Munyanderu, Convention coordinator for the respect for human rights . Most of the victims were killed in their homes, he added. In neighboring North Kivu province, the ADF killed at least 11 people with machetes and guns in Beni territory on Monday, said Colonel Charles Ehuta Omeonga, the region’s administrator. Civilians have also been targeted in their homes, and the death toll is higher because some people are missing, he added. Africanews with AP

Wagner in Africa: How the Russian Mercenary Group Has Rebranded
Russia is offering governments in Africa a “regime survival package” in exchange for access to strategically important natural resources, a major new report has found. Internal Russian government documents, seen by the BBC, also detail how it is working to change mining laws in West Africa, with the ambition of dislodging Western companies from an area of strategic importance. This is part of the process of the Russian government taking over the businesses of the Wagner mercenary group, broken up after a failed coup in June 2023…In reality, the “Expeditionary Corps” appears more as “Wagner 2.0”, than a radical departure for Russian foreign policy. [Yevgeny Prigozhin, deceased leader of the Wagner group,] had built deep political, economic and military ties on the African continent – dismantling this complex web would have been difficult and ultimately counter-productive. The “Expeditionary Corps” is operating in the same countries, with the same equipment and – it seems – with the same ultimate goal. BBC

Nigeria’s Defense Chief Accuses Nations Withholding Arms Sales over Abuses of ‘Double Standards’
Nigeria’s defense chief expressed frustration Tuesday with what he called the “double standards” of some countries that won’t sell him military weapons because of human rights concerns. Gen. Christopher Musa’s comment underscores one of the biggest challenges for Africa’s most populous nation in combating a deadly and complex security crisis, from the Islamic militant insurgency in northeast to the dozens of armed groups targeting travelers and communities in the northwest and central regions. He declined to name the countries in question when asked by The Associated Press. Nigeria’s security forces for many years have faced allegations of extrajudicial killings and illegal arrests. The United States and other major arms suppliers at one point or another have withheld the sale of weapons over those accusations. AP

ECOWAS Commission Decries Non-implementation of Court Judgements
The ECOWAS Commission has lamented the failure of member states to implement its regional court’s decisions…Omar Touray, the president of ECOWAS Commission…spoke on Tuesday at the opening session of the statutory meeting of the ECOWAS Judicial Council in Abuja. Calling for deliberate action against member states’ disobedience to the ECOWAS Court verdicts, Mr Touray noted that “the supplementary protocol relating to the Community Court provides a role for the national judicial institutions in the enforcement of these judgements”…Dwelling on the role of the regional court, Mr Touray said the court had been a reference point for ECOWAS Institutions and individuals in search of advice, arbitration and adjudication. Premium Times

Sudan Conflict Spilling to South Sudan, UN Official Warns
The head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Nicholas Haysom said the war in Sudan has spilled over to South Sudan. Speaking to reporters in Juba on Tuesday, Haysom said there are indications recruitment could be taking place in South Sudan by parties involved in Sudan. He said young men and boys could be recruited by rival factions in to the conflict. “We are worried that firearms are going to start drifting into South Sudan,” noted Haysom. He said although UNMISS does not control the border, it will alert authorities to minimize what could be very disruptive. Sudan Tribune

Sudan: Internet Outage Halts Food Aid, Leading to Deaths in Khartoum
Following the outbreak of war, community-led initiatives in Khartoum, including 7 grassroots committees, have been preparing food and providing medicine to over a million citizens. These groups rely on donations and online platforms for coordination and funding. The Khartoum Bahri Emergency Room reported civilian deaths linked to the closure of collective kitchens, stating that the internet blackout hampered coordination and food supply. Similarly, the Kalakla Emergency Room relies on online banking for receiving aid and supporting war-affected individuals. Communication and internet services have been disrupted nationwide since February 4th, with accusations of deliberate sabotage by the Rapid Support Forces. Partial restoration has occurred in northern and eastern Sudan. Sudan Tribune

African Development Bank: High Cost of Living in Africa Could Cause Unrest
The African Development Bank is warning that the rising cost of energy, food and other commodities in several African countries, including Angola, Ethiopia and Kenya, could trigger social unrest. Already, people in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, have been marching to protest the high cost of living, prompting the government to release grain from the national reserves. The African Development Bank’s notice was contained in its biannual Africa Macroeconomic Performance outlook publication released last week. The bank said in its 2024 forecast that energy and food price increases — along with a currency depreciation in Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria — could spark internal conflict, despite Africa showing overall economic growth. VOA

Zimbabwe Fights Illegal Settlers on State Land ‘Sold’ after Being Seized from White Farmers
Two decades after a disastrous attempt at land reform, which drove out more than 400 white commercial farmers, the Zimbabwean government is fighting illegal settlers on state land handed out by traditional leaders, land barons and corrupt government officials…So far, according to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), 3 775 suspected people have been arrested…The ZRP’s docket books showed that some of the people were illegally resettled on grazing land in parts of farms that were taken from commercial farmers at the turn of the century…The government has reacted by destroying houses and other structures erected on the illegally-acquired land…[The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association] called on the government to halt evictions, which “are causing a wholesale violation of human rights”. News24

Zimbabwe Starts an Emergency Polio Vaccination Drive after Detecting Cases Caused by a Rare Mutation
Zimbabwe began an emergency campaign to inoculate more than 4 million children against polio on Tuesday after health authorities detected three cases caused by the rare mutation of the weakened virus used in oral vaccines, including a 10-year-old girl who was paralyzed in January. The health ministry said laboratory tests from samples collected from sewage sites in several areas of the capital, Harare, late last year showed the presence of a mutated polio virus that originated in an oral vaccine used in the global eradication effort. In rare instances, the live polio virus in vaccines can mutate into a form capable of sparking new outbreaks, especially in places with poor sanitation and low vaccination levels. AP

Madagascan President’s Ex-aide Convicted of Offering Mining Licence for Bribes
Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina’s ex-chief of staff was convicted in a London court on Tuesday of offering to help precious stone miner Gemfields win lucrative mining rights in exchange for substantial bribes. Romy Andrianarisoa, 47, was accused of seeking substantial payments from Gemfields between 2021 and 2023…Gemfields, which owns the Faberge jewellery brand, became suspicious and approached Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA), which deployed an undercover officer posing as a consultant negotiating on Gemfields’ behalf. During conversations with the purported consultant, known as “Charles” to protect his identity, Andrianarisoa and her associate, Philippe Tabuteau, sought around 270,000 Swiss francs ($310,000) between them…Prosecutors said Andrianarisoa and Tabuteau were both offered payments by “Charles” in rubies, to make it easier to hide the corrupt payments. Reuters